When I was a kid, all my friends and I, we had corkboards in our bedrooms. We'd tack up photos of friends, ticket stubs, pages from our favourite magazines, random scraps of paper with mysterious meaning—anything that was interesting or important or crucial to remember (according to our 14-year-old selves).
Then the Internet came along, with digital cameras close behind, and suddenly paper seemed passé. By the time I went away to university, it was clear the corkboard was headed the way of the dodo. What wasn't so clear was how to replicate these treasuries online.
For a while, I made do with an elaborate (in the sense of many-foldered) system of online bookmarking. But it turns out I have a love/hate relationship with electronic bookmarks: I love filing things and I hate looking back at them.
And let's face it, the words lava cake don't hold the same allure as a photo, which is why I'm super enthused about Pinterest. I may be off to a slow start, but I think the concept has potential. It's the online corkboard my inner 14-year-old has been pining for since 1994.
Back in December, I pushpinned this photo of whole wheat sablés with cacao nibs onto my mental corkboard (a considerably less reliable alternative to Pinterest) with the intention of attempting a buckwheat variation.
Revisiting the recipe again recently, I noticed that Molly of Orangette had a similar buckwheat brainwave...more than three years earlier. What follows is a bit of mixing and matching.
Buckwheat Shortbread with Cacao Nibs
1 cup (~4.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (~4.5 ounces) buckwheat flour
14 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup roasted cacao nibs
In a small bowl, briefly whisk together the all-purpose and buckwheat flours. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Add the nibs and beat briefly to incorporate. Add the flour and mix just until combined. Use your hands to lightly knead the dough a few times until it forms a ball.
Put the dough inside a medium or large Ziploc freezer bag. Use a rolling pin on the outside of the bag to create a 1/4-inch thick rectangle, pushing the dough into the corners and smoothing the surface. Take a look at the technique here, if my instructions aren't clear. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Use scissors to cut the sides of the Ziploc bag and reveal the cold dough. Cut into squares using a sharp knife. Carefully prick each square twice with a fork, pushing the tines down until they reach the cutting board.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the squares are golden brown on the bottoms and edges. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Notes: This is my second attempt at a buckwheat cookie and, I think, a better result.
Source: A buckwheat variation on the Whole Wheat Sablés with Cacao Nibs from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies, discovered via Orangette.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
In 1986, my mom and I moved from prairie Alberta to the suburbs of Vancouver. For the longest time, I divided my life into two distinct periods—before BC (in this case, British Columbia) and after—and mentally filed away my experiences accordingly.
Naturally, the move meant a lot of changes. Some were immediately obvious to 6-year-old me (suddenly I didn't ride a big orange bus to school), some took a few years (the trusty blue pick-up was eventually traded in for a four-door family car), and still others became apparent only over time (like what we ate).
In the streamlined version of history that resides in my head, we drove into the Rockies eating cream of potato soup and came out the other side munching on greens and bagels. In reality, our diet gradually evolved to suit our new life (one that didn't include men working in fields or tending to cattle, a 20-kilometre car ride to the nearest major grocery store or drinking water hauled up pail by pail from a well by the side of the road) and the evolving times (hello low-fat craze of the late '80s/early '90s).
Overall, I'd say it was a positive change. But every once in awhile one of those forgotten foods will pop into my head unannounced and demand to be reconsidered—usually with good reason.
That was the case for these welsh cakes. A forgotten food worth remembering.
2 cups flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup salted butter + extra for cooking
2-3 tablespoons milk
1/4 rounded teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dark raisins
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and lemon zest.
Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the raisins. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until a dough begins to form. Use your hands to gather the mixture into a ball, as you would pie pastry.
Preheat a griddle to 360 degrees Fahrenheit or heat a frying pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch. Cut into 3-inch rounds.
Lightly grease the heated griddle or frying pan with a slick of butter. Fill the pan with welsh cakes. Cook the cakes until lightly browned on the underside, flip and repeat (about 2-3 minutes per side). You may have to adjust your stovetop temperature as you go. Lightly re-grease between batches.
Source: Mom's recipe file.
Notes: The original recipe calls for 1/4 butter and 1/4 lard, a flat 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/3 cup currants (rinsed and drained) and no lemon zest.
Labels: Biscuits and scones
Friday, February 04, 2011
Some things in life are pretty, but tasteless; others are homely hidden gems. This apple oat snack cake falls squarely in the second category, yet still begs to be judged by its (crispy caramelized coconut) cover.
Apple Oat Cake
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats, old-fashioned
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 medium-sized apples (about 350 grams)
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream (I used 1% milk)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarsely (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and line an 8- or 9-inch Pyrex pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
To prepare the cake...
Measure out the rolled oats into a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water on top, stir once or twice, and set aside.
In a second bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a third bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in the soaked rolled oats, followed by the flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples (I used a mandoline). Lightly stir them into the batter.
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes (it will depend on how juicy your apples are) or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven (but leave the oven on) while you get started on the topping...
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the brown sugar, milk or cream, coconut and chopped pecans. Stir to combine.
Spread the mixture evenly over the hot cake.
Switch your oven from bake to broil. Return the cake to the oven and bake until the topping is bubbly and golden (about 1-1/2 minutes). Watch it carefully!
Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool completely before serving.
Source: Mom's recipe file.
Labels: Cakes and cupcakes